Sunday, July 7, 2013

Short Update

Jarrod is doing well in his new area with his new companion, Elder Nash. His last area was split into a north and south district and he is "leading" the northern part and his former comp is taking the south side and is now the district leader. All four guys were in the place together until the apartment was ready for J and his comp to move into. They'd been able to drum up a good number of investigators there, and now he is starting pretty much from scratch again. That kind of seems to be his theme so far - set up a new area and getting it going and then moving on. He also was able to attend a Mission Conference where Elder David A Bednar spoke. It was one of those conferences where you come away totally pumped up to go out and be a better person. Jarrod was almost able to get to see his Uncle (who lives in Philadelphia) there at the conference, but due to work, his uncle missed it! Neither one of them realized they were both going to be there until after the fact, though. And now his uncle is moving to Cali, so they really won't get to see each other for a while. So close, yet so far. It's all good. He's in good spirits and is totally immersed in the work. It's a joy to see him so happy and positive, motivated to improve himself and learning to love unconditionally. His new address is: 996 Freeport Road Apt. 3 Freeport, PA 16229-1830

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Email from 6-10-13

Jarrod was transferred in April from Latrobe, PA to Tarentum, PA. He has two companions now. Hard for him to get a word in edgewise when teaching, but it's all good. He enjoys their company. I complained to him that he wasn't sending me any stories or experiences that I could update his blog with, so hopefully we'll both get better at this! Right? Here is his email from Monday after experiencing a fabulous conference with Elder David A. Bednar as the key speaker. So we were privileged to have a mission wide conference in Harrisburg, PA (about 4-5 hours away) with Elder David A. Bednar as the presiding Apostle! So literally every missionary I the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Mission was able to listen and speak with Elder Bednar as well as Elders Rasband, Smith, and Hamilton from the Quorum of the 70. It was so cool because as most conferences go whoever is there gets up speaks at you and sits down. Elder Bednar was so cool! First he gave us a few of his previous talks (attached) to study before so we could have some questions for him. He then asked us things we learned and what we felt as we studied those topics and some other things he shared which was amazing! After that we were able to ask him any question we had relating to those topics and he gave some amazing insight along with the other Elders of the 70. What I got out of it the most was that we are not OBJECTS to be acted upon but we are AGENTS to act. Nobody else can make us do something and it is up to us to act on what we observe, learn, and feel. Like when we see something happen on youtube or in a movie like the Step Up movies for example. Everybody watches them and gets so excited and wishes they were amazing dancers and could be in movies too! But how many of us go out and practice or study other things like that so we could one day dance like they do on America's Best Dance Crew? I don't think any of us have. We forget about it the next day until we watch the movie again! It's like everything else in life. We need to stop thinking about things and just go do them. I wish I could play Lacrosse in College!! But I never spent the extra time alone practicing wall-ball or working on dodges! So just go do something. One thing that we've been working on as a companionship is talking to EVERYBODY we see. As you know I hate talking to random people and I won't if I don't have to! But as a missionary that's your job. Last Monday as we were walking to the library to email we almost bumped into a couple guys on the side walk and I walked past thinking nothing of it because I wanted to email!! But we made it a goal and my companions followed through and ran back to give him a pass-along card and they kept walking and talking and the whole time I was just groaning because I didn't want to be there! We wound up walking two blocks and one of the guys, Luis, said it was amazing because he had been praying for somebody to come into his life to help him out! He had recently come out of a long coma after being shot 3 times in Iraq. So after 10 years of service he was home not knowing what to do with his life. He wanted us to teach him about the Restored Gospel and so we went to his apartment and taught him. We invited him to church on Sunday (yesterday) and he gladly accepted! That night we had Family Home Evening at a member's home and invited a few others in the ward about his age. We had maybe 8 people there and we just had a normal little lesson, game, and food but it was probably the best experience I have had on my mission so far. Just seeing the joy in a home where the gospel is lived and we are all having fun and feeling the spirit! Luis bore his testimony about how he knows the this is the right path for him to take. We were able to set a baptismal date for July 27th and because he had such a good time at church and at FHE he has invited another friend who is struggling to come with us next week and even wants to go on a mission!!! But sadly he's 27 and is too old but you don't have to be a set-apart missionary to DO something amazing! I totally love everything about being out here. It has been such a reward and I hope that all of you will do everything that you can to go out and DO something good. Small things bring to pass great and marvelous things. Anyone can do it!! So you're all great and I hope you're all having a good time :) Thanks for listening to me ramble! - Elder West p.s. I have a blue mustache... :)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Letters from 3/10/13 and 3/11/13

Yeah P-day ends at 6. Blah. Goes too quick! We had a dope “snow-storm!” It ‘twas beautiful! It wasn’t cold at all but it had a ton of soft flaky snow, about 10”, which I took a few pictures of! You’re welcome! :) Yeah, it was short-lived YOLO (you only live once) moment. Nothing interesting. I did a bit of driving, not supposed to unless it’s an emergency, senior comp can’t, or I’m leading our area on exchanges (which means my comp is in a different area.) But the roads are tiny and retarded. It’s not bad! The mission pres had me drive a brand new Chevy Cruze from the mission home to the meeting house, about an hour’s drive. So sick! Yeah, so I gave a lady your facebook-ish. She loves art and she is freakin’ awesome! She might contact you. {She did!!} She’s in our ward and had us over for dinner. So we shared a little lesson, or the other elders shared a lesson, we joined in! IT was about what we should base our testimonies on. But teaching by the Spirit was/is huge. Elder Walker (my comp) answered a question about Joseph Smith she’s had for 6 years without even meaning to. The Spirit is a necessity in our lives! That is why it is so important to renew our convenants on Sunday and repenting daily, you know? I have a funny picture I’ll put up tomorrow... We’ll play on p-day, tomorrow, and just exercise/work out however we can in our apartment every other day. I mean every day as in not on p-day! But yeah, pray for us to find people to teach! We’ve been struggling.... Love you bunches! 3/11/13 Email: So to explain my beautiful picture - we were driving to a library in another area because our ZL's called my companion (the DL) needing him to print some stuff. so as we were driving along this AWESOME TANK! was along the side of the road, we slammed to a stop and jumped out for a quick picture! it didn't take very long but when we continued we came along a man who's car had slid part way into a ditch. he couldn't get out so we stopped to help! we pushed his car out with the help of a passing biker and the car had gone over a piece of concrete in the ditch which bent the rim thing that the tire goes on so it pinched it to the axle, we couldn't get the tire off so we couldn't put the donut on! we waited for him to call for help but nobody picked up. i guess everybody gets in trouble on the first beautiful saturday in pennsylvania! but we went to a gas station to have them call him a tow truck and as we left we gave him a card with our number on it and haven't seen or heard from him! but i know that our service opened his heart just a tiny bit and with the card he now has a door waiting for him to open. Love you all! do a random/kind act of service everyday no matter how small! you will see the blessings if you look closely enough ;) - elder west PS totally would have missed the guy if we hadn't stopped for a picture too! crasy crasy

Letter from 3/4/13

(I'll try to do as little editing as possible here.) Girls take wayyy too long to get ready! (In response to me saying I take too long!)I've always know that but experienced it first hand in the MTC! The girls were always last to class, to meals, and to the temple when we got to go! Ridiculous. Our area is pretty sweet but really big! It covers a part of Greensburg, Youngwood, Latrobe, Derry, Ligonier, Donegal, Mt. Pleasant, and Calumet. We only get 1000 miles a month for our car. That's about 32 miles a day. It's so freaking hard not to go over! But yeah, Latrobe is famous for Mr. Rogers and Arnold Palmer. All I know about the beer is that it's called Rolling Rock.(Luke was wondering why they put the # 33 on all of their bottles? Another thing Latrobe is famous for.) I like to avoid those talks. Haha. It is really beautiful here and most of the time the snow is awesome! I always wear gloves or I just put my hands in my pockets. We get a gas card and we keep a list of our miles. We get a different card called a Mac-card for groceries but if we're lucky the members feed us and buy us food so we can save up for toys. I wanna save up to get a Penguins flag to put in our apartment! Cause I WILL NOT convert to the Steelers! So I like the Penguins (hockey) now. Sorry, Luke! I still kind of like the Black hawks! Planning is easy. It's just hard to stick to that plan~ Totally sucks when we have the whole day planned around lessons and everyone bails. That's pretty much this entire week. We taught 6 lessons all this week. We did a lot of tracting but still haven't found a single person interested. It's so hard not teaching. I hate it. Especially all the teaching in the MTC we did. Totally did not prepare me for the teaching we WOULDN'T be doing! We actually had our only one for tonight bail so we might go tracting. They're both pretty bad downers. But we went on exchanges earlier for 24 hours. I went to Freeport with Elder Perkins and his companion Elder Smith went with Elder Walker. Elder Perkins and I went to 3 or 4 houses (the 4th was in the morning) but the last one at night. We went to this super cool guy's house that was a small loft apartment but looked over the town. The missionaries called him the Emperor of, whatever the area was called, and he loved it! He was so legit. He made us fresh fruit smoothies and had Enya playing in the backyard. I totally recognized one of the songs from some of the music you showed us when we were little. Brings back memories of the old house... But anyways! He told us about a friend from work got drunk and drove down a one way street and had a head-on collision and killed the other driver. We don't know what happened to his friend because the police wouldn't let out which hospital he was in. But the guy was distraught and said he would take as much pain from his friend and put it on his own shoulders and we were like BOOM! Atonement right there. So we read a scripture or two and bore our testimonies about how Jesus already did all of that and how he just needed to pray for his friend and do all he could to let his friend know he loved him. I also put out the point that after all this is said and done, maybe that was the Lord's way of humbling the guy to listen to the Gospel. Bad things happen as a trial to our faith. I know that because it's happening right now with our search for investigators. We have a couple potentials but I'm not so sure they're really interested. This is so stressful! Oh and yeah! Just thought the new missionary in your ward! I met a kid in the MTC going to Chicago and said to look for you and you would have them over for dinner! Dunno if they'll ever find you. But take 'em out! Same thing, Oma & Opa! Met a cutie going to Berlin! You totally get mission goggles out here! It's almost exactly like beer goggles where every girl is super cut and it just doesn't make any sense! Elder Walker says that it will get better as time goes on but it's ridiculous how bad I want to talk to a girl! Blahhh! I'll just work on my face-off skills because I now have a lacrosse stick to play with! :) So pumped, you don't even know! Sorry to get off-track! Haha. It happens like every 5 minutes. Selena, I told you about. But we're meeting tomorrow and I'm so excited because of hose awesome she is! It was funny. When we went to visit her last week she had got suspended from school for some stuff and police came to her house, so when we knocked they wouldn't answer the door because they thought we were police again! Ah, gosh, she's so cool! Total trouble maker like I was. It's awesome! I rally hope she wants to be baptized on the 23rd! She's been my biggest blessing out here. She pretty much fell into our hands the first week we were here and she is already so close to baptism and is progressing like crazy! But like I said before be grateful for little things. Pray often and ALWAYS! Study the scriptures as much as you can. I started from the beginning and Nephi is literally the biggest stud ever. I take about 2 chapters everyday and mark every little thing I find interesting. So that means A LOT! I just finished 2 Nephi 2. Probably the best chapter ever. Read it!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Feb 24, 2013 Letter

(Note: minor editing here... you probably don’t really care to read that he wants me to fix his debit card issues. Yes, my response was “this is the reason why Scouts are required to get the family/life merit badges. Budgeting is necessary!!!” Mean, nagging mother.) The trip out here was great. There was 20 elders and 2 sisters coming to PA! Out of the 22 this other elder and I place a Book of Mormon to the woman on the plane after I called you. (Mom). We talked the whole flight and I gave her my email but I got nothin when I checked. Oh well. we had a good time, on the 19th we got our companions/areas. I’m with Elder Walker, he’s from Bountiful, UT and played college lacrosse with Taylor Dockstader. (One of the guys on J’s lax team.) We have a ton in common and he’s been out almost a hear. He’s the DL (district leader) of our District. Pretty cool although I have responsibility. Our area (Latrobe) just got re-opened after 7 years so we’re literally starting from nothing. All we have is the list of less active members (about 400) which we will try to “reactivate”. We met a less active part-member family and the 14 year old, Selena was never baptized. We met them saturday and I actually committed her to baptism April 9th and she said Yes! So we’ll work with her a ton, maybe she’ll get baptized before! We got to have a lesson(s) with 2 less actives who are basically living in a hospital right now. They were the coolest guys ever! They’re really excited to have us come back. Elder Walker says I’m really spoiled to have is as my first area because we have a pretty nice apartment (brand new), nice car (Chevy-Cruz), and the ward is really involved with the missionaries! We’ve had a few dinner appointments and are getting more! I’ve gained almost 20 pounds between here and the MTC! I haven’t received any mail aside from your package because nobody has my new address! It is: Elder Jarrod West 216 N Shenandoah #302 Latrobe, PA 15650 Mom. I was thinking you could make a little photo album from before my mission! Family, friends, farewell! That’d be cool. :) I like food, stamps, legal pad paper, razors (Schick Hydro blades), and $! :D Fo sho! Tell everyone I love them and to write me soon! -Elder West (the

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

First email contact from Pittsburgh

Jarrod and I are still trying to figure out the best way to communicate with each other. It turns out we were both emailing each other at the same time yesterday - and read each others’ messages after our initial email to the other. Confused? Join the club! Apparently he’s written me a letter that I should be getting pretty soon. I’m hoping that in the letter he will tell me where he is located in the PA area, because he didn’t mention it in his emails. Here’s the most pertinent thing that he wrote (besides the photo information):
“if you wanna send another care package, don't forget schick hydro razors. those come in handy! also heath bars :) i keep wanting to text or call you about these things but i CAN'T! ahhhhhh annoyiiiing. oh well. i seriosly like it better without a phone but being able to send those quick little messages are a major blessing. be grateful for the little things like that. and being able to eat whenever you want. and usually being able to buy whatever you want without thinking about it for 2 years if you're gonna need it or not. ah! some of these will seriously stress you out. but with prayer and scirptures i'm sane. love you”
Here are the photos he sent me. The tall guy in the center is one of Jarrod’s friends from St. George. Elder Bryce Brindley. I can’t remember where he’s going. Cousin Bekki Brau somehow figured out when he was going to be at the temple and was able to run over and meet him there. I think that girl is magic! (And they have the same nose!!) MTC Pic of a group of them All of the guys in our district the last night with our zone leaders. (maroon shirt in the back and super tall blue shirt) Bekki knows him from school! And lastly - in Pennsylvania! All the PA missionaries from the MTC together. getting in the field Feb. 18th and getting our comps/areas on the 19th

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Flight from the MTC

Jarrod flew out from the Salt Lake City airport early this morning and safely arrived at the mission home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I have only received two quick letters from him this last week, and two short emails. He didn't share too many adventures, except flirting with some of the Sister missionaries. On Valentine's Day they were at the temple, and there was one sister that was quite good looking. With much encouragement from the guys, he got down on one knee and asked her to be his Valentine for the day! All in good fun! I can tell he is really enjoying himself, since he is being so silly in his letters... usually his address to me ("Maaaa!", "Yo!", "Mother Dear") Mostly he's talked of who he's received letters from (Thank you, everyone who has written him! He has loved it!) and how terrible it is not to hear from his mother and father! (Chicago mail to Utah is really slow!! That's my excuse, anyway!) Oh, they had snowball wars with a neighboring district (in which the elder that was from St George and played lacrosse with Jarrod, Elder Angell). Apparently there was some floor/ceiling banging going on. He also listed some of his favorite treats, if anyone would like to send packages: Oreos, Twix, Milky Way, Starbusts, Charleston Chews, gum, etc. Although, he's not a huge junk-food eater (must have some dominant West genes there because he sure didn't get that from his mother!), so if you'd like to send him some healthy snacks, I'm sure he wouldn't complain. Jerky is good, fruit snacks.... ? His last letter to me said there was a possibility he could call from the airport if he had time, so he hoped I didn't mind a 4 am phone call! Of course, I woke up at 4 and waited and dozed and waited some more! He called at about 9 am, during his layover in Denver! When they arrived at the Salt Lake City airport they had just enough time to check in and board the plane. He said his luggage didn't go overweight and they checked in his carry-on since it was a smaller plane. He was able to get a phone card that had just a few minutes free on it, so we didn't speak long. He was doing great. 20 elders and 2 sisters were heading out to Pennsylvania. He said there were about 80 leaving to California!! He said he has a lot of pictures, but has yet to post anything. I don't think he had enough time on the computer to be able to post anything. He saw a lot of friends in the MTC, including his cousin, Jake Whitney. He sends his love to everyone! I got this short note from the Mission President's wife: Dear West family, Just a quick note to let you know your missionary made it here safe and sound. We are so excited to have him here with us in PA. Thanks for sharing him with us for the next little while. We will try and take very good care of him. much love, Sister Topham